The eighth edition of Ryman Healthcare's Stories of Service tribute book is now published and is at the villages, libraries and RSAs in time to commemorate Anzac Day.
It features the wartime memories of 62 Ryman village residents.
The special commemorative books have been produced to tell our residents' stories and mark the special day in New Zealand and Australia.
The collection of residents' stories is remarkable and diverse and demonstrate the various ways conflict affected our people from volunteer civilians to the military.
We've gathered a lot of stories over the years, and it is an absolute privilege to be there to hear them. Some residents feel it is time they told their story; for many this is the first time they have, and tears were shed and families supportive, yet astounded.
Daphne Shaw of Possum Bourne Village recalls her work in The First Australian Field Hospital at Vung Tau by China Beach in Vietnam. “The survival rate from injuries was extremely high because it was the first war where helicopters were used to get the soldiers to medical facilities within 20 minutes to half an hour.”
“The jungle is a noisy place at night,” says David Nicoll of Linda Jones Village, remembering his time in Malaya. “You had to get used to the noises, to pick up the noise that shouldn’t be there.”
Dorothy Withall who graces the cover of our book in her nurse’s uniform spent three days crossing the English Channel in a small boat to rescue the Allies during the evacuation from Dunkirk. The Jean Sandel resident has the same sentiment as many others when she says, “I hope there is never a war like that again.”
From delivering a baby during battle in Italy, nursing the wounded back to health or comforting them when there was no longer hope, to narrowly avoiding a kamikaze pilot after Japan had surrendered, everyone’s war was different.
Each experience has been held tightly for a lifetime.
But there are also happier memories of camaraderie during conflict, and the formation of life-long friendships, such as the ones Graham Fisher of Deborah Cheetham Village recalls. “Those army mates, you class them more as family because of what you have been through together.”
Still, the common theme is a sense of loss and sadness, and that war is the most futile of endeavours.
Anzac Day is their day to remember and our special day to honour them, and we hope the book goes some way to repaying the debt we owe them.
Copies of the book have been sent to villages and are available online: